Will America’s youth pick up the mantle of protest?….
The aftermath of the latest mass school shooting tragedy in America is further proof of the huge divide between the pro-gun lobby and those who seek a system adopted by the majority of the Western World. This is not a political blog and I do not wish to lecture America on its gun laws from across the Atlantic but what I do take interest in are any connections between today’s politics and those of decades past.
Shootings in America are an everyday occurrence and increasingly it seems, the likelihood of a deranged shooter creating carnage in a school seemingly more common. Certainly the perception would suggest that. What has also seemed more commonplace is the sense of apathy towards such killings, it seems almost a given that news will unfold of someone with easy access to a range of high-powered guns going on a killing spree followed by the inevitable outpouring of grief and, sadly, point-scoring by those on the pro-gun side of the debate. As innocent people lose their lives and their loved ones forever scarred by their deaths and injuries so we carry on with the status quo and the begrudging acceptance of more tragedies like the last one to come. Or will we?
The reason for this post is my pleasant surprise to see the depth of feeling America’s young people have expressed over this. There seems to be signs of a swelling group of students willing to stand up to the NRA and its supporters and demand a safe haven for them to learn in. Regardless of opinion or political persuasion I do firmly believe in the right to peaceful protest. If the sixties taught us anything it was the power of the human voice to protest and make a stand against war, racism, sexual inequality and workers rights. In recent years that voice has not been sufficiently heard and I feel sad about that.
It made me think about the student protests across America and Europe in the sixties but particularly in the student campuses across America and more especially the four young men and women who lost their lives in the Kent State University protests in 1970. I have long felt that those lives had to mean something, that the marches and protests across the world which were met with state enforced violence would inspire future generations to respect that which they take for granted. This new generation has an opportunity to make their decade one to remember, be that gun control, climate change or a new style of politics. Whatever the cause, they should strive to make a difference in a peaceful, considered way and with it an energy for new music, art and literature. It’s the preserve of the young to do that.